Mon, Jun 18, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Egypt’s military to hold reins of power, armed forces say

AFP and AP, CAIRO

A woman checks for names before casting her vote during the second day of voting in Egypt’s runoff presidential election at a polling station in Shubra on the outskirts of Cairo yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Egypt’s ruling military council is to stay in control of legislation and the budget in the absence of a parliament, even as the country prepares to announce a new president, military sources said yesterday.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power when former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in an uprising last year, was set to issue an amended constitutional declaration, consolidating its powers just hours before Egypt wrapped up a divisive presidential election to pick Mubarak’s successor.

Military sources say Article 56 of the declaration would be amended to give legislative powers and control of the state budget to the SCAF, following a ruling by Egypt’s top court that the Islamist-led parliament is invalid.

The SCAF had in January handed legislative power to parliament.

The SCAF will also issue new rules under Article 60 for the formation of the constituent assembly that is to draft the country’s permanent constitution. A new panel was recently picked by the lower house to do so following its earlier dissolution amid accusations of an Islamist monopoly.

Article 30 of the declaration would also be amended to say that the new Egyptian president will be sworn in before the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court instead of by the lower house of parliament.

Egyptians were voting yesterday in the final day of a presidential election pitting Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The winner will be officially announced on Thursday, but the result could be known by as early as this morning, based on not-entirely reliable exit polls conducted by campaign workers or samples of votes counted across the nation.

The race between Shafiq and Morsi has deeply divided the country, 16 months after a stunning uprising by millions forced Mubarak to step down after 29 years in office.

“I am bitter and I am filled with regret that I have to choose between two people I hate. I have to pick a bad candidate only to avoid the worse of the two,” a silver-haired pensioner lamented in Cairo’s crowded Bab el-Shariyah district.

He refused to give his name, fearing retribution for speaking so openly.

“Nothing is going to be resolved and Egypt will not see stability,” he added.

Few voters displayed an air of celebration visible in previous post-Mubarak elections. The prevailing mood was one of deep anxiety over the future — tinged with bitterness that their “revolution” had stalled, fears that no matter who wins, street protests will erupt again, or deep suspicion that the political system was being manipulated. Moreover, there was a sense of voting fatigue.

“It’s a farce. I crossed out the names of the two candidates on my ballot paper and wrote: ‘The revolution continues,’” architect Ahmed Saad el-Deen said in Cairo’s Sayedah Zeinab district.

“I can’t vote for the one who killed my brother or the second one who danced on his dead body,” he said, alluding to Shafiq’s alleged role in the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising and claims by revolutionaries that Morsi’s Brotherhood rode the uprising to realize its own political goals.

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